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59 replies
Convincing Parents to let me go to Europe Solo
outofstep
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Hi. I wasn’t sure where exactly to post this put perhaps this is the best place. I’m 20 years old, in college, and want to go to Europe solo for a month. I’d rather go solo because I want this trip to be a personal journey to find out who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my life, if that makes sense. I’ve lived with social anxiety most of my life and I think travelling would put me in situations where I’d have to meet new people and socialize.

The problem is that my parents really don’t know why and won’t let me go to Europe solo, for fear of my safety. With someone else they think its ok. I’m going to all major cities where a great portion of people speak English, i.e. Berlin, Paris, London, and Amsterdam. Plus, in the event something bad should happen I have relaitves in Sicily that I could stay this.

Well I’ve presented these arguements and they won’t change their views. What can I do to convice my parents otherwise? Thanks for all the help.

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Do a bunch of research to show you are serious and show them a realistic and attainable proposal.

They probably think that it is a bad idea, but if you can show them that it is something plausible, they should go for it.

There are several other posters looking for the same help here, maybe search for parents in this forum?

Good luck!

auher
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I second Sick’s thoughts on giving the parents a thoroughly thought out proposal about where you will go, how you will fund it, and show them how you have thought of things like where to stay, etc. Even if you don’t stick to it (and you prob. wont), it will

a) show them you are serious and mature
b) give you some experience in trip planning

That way, you can prob. get them to let you go, and then you can design the trip like you want to from there.

BTW, on a side note, welcome to EuroTrip. Also, your post # 1 was better thought out and more logical than most if not all newbies on here. Good work Smile

Your idea for taking a personal journey is cool. I think you’d have a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed my time travelling alone. I think it helps you grow as a person and really broadens your horizons and makes you adaptable to all sorts of situations.

-A

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Maybe you should show them some travelogues of other people who travelled around Europe solo and didn’t come to any harm? There’s a bunch of them at bootsnall.com, including my own, http://blogs.bootsna… Also, besides showing them a detailed plan as suggested before, do some research on safety precautions etc., and let them know about is so they know you’re not likely to get into trouble. Or do a short solo trip to somehwere nearby where you live to show them you can do it.

Scott_Hayton
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If all else fails (and you aren’t financially dependent on your parents) just buy your ticket and weather the storm. They might even be impressed by your independence.

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You’re over 18; if you are financing this trip on your own, your parents can’t stop you — although I suppose they could refuse to support you in college, take you off the family health insurance plan or throw you out when you get back. Why are your parents opposed to you going solo if they think it’s OK for somebody else — just normal parental protectiveness or is there some reason they’re particularly aprehensive about YOU traveling solo?

I agree that you need a well thought out plan and budget — including $ and a plan for emergencies like losing your passport or spraining an ankle — although don’t dwell on the negative possibilites. I think you also need a well-thought out plan for earning the money to get there. You need to earn enough money for this to be totally "on your own" not a situation where you’re paying for this trip but your parents will have shell out more for college next year or that you’ll use up ALL the financial cushion you might have. There’s nothing like cleaning hotel rooms at 6:00 on Saturday morning to show that you’re serious — and I’ve yet to see the parent who said no in the face of this particular demonstration of serious intent.

I would have supported my son if he’d wanted to go solo at age 20 — although I would have been less encouraging to him because of his "issues" than I was with my nieces and nephews. Alas, (where in the gene pool did this kid come from?) he’s a homebody.

Don’t know if you’re male or female, but most of the advice for solo travelers is for females. Much of it is good advice for ANY solo traveler. You might search around on the "advice to solo female travelers" forum (most will be really old posts)for some encouragement and ideas. The "Lets Go" guidebooks generally have a section for solo females in the general information and in the write-ups about each country.

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Travel is one way to break out of your shell, but not the only way.

I second the idea of earning as much money as you can on your own to help pay for the trip. If you still aren’t able to go this year, you will be able to in a couple years, and the money will still be there.

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quote: Why are your parents opposed to you going solo if they think it’s OK for somebody else — just normal parental protectiveness or is there some reason they’re particularly aprehensive about YOU traveling solo?

I think s/he meant it would be OK if she went WITH someone else.

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Sigh… sometimes it’s hard for parents to let go. Unfortunately, depending on your situation you may still be "dependent" (esp. financially) despite being 20.

I agree that doing a lot of research is a very good idea to show you are serious.

Another very good alternative (especially if it is clear that the Europe trip won’t happen) is to come up with some kind of compromise. For example, make a week long solo trip somewhere near where you live this summer. Agree that if that goes well, next year you can make the trip to Europe. That will also give you the chance to make efforts to save up for the trip if you haven’t already. Or if you had a friend who migh go for part of the time and you go solo the rest…

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quote:BTW, on a side note, welcome to EuroTrip. Also, your post # 1 was better thought out and more logical than most if not all newbies on here. Good work Smile

auher you’ve got a one track mind.

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Wow! The help has been overwhelming. Thanks a lot. Just to clarify, I am a male from USA. Financially, I am dependent on my parents but I have earned enough money over the months to comfortably travel to Europe for a month. By the way, I talked to them a little while ago and my mother gave me there "there’s a lot of nuts out there" line when arguing about traveling and staying at hostels. I tried to explain that there will come a point in my life where I’m going to people totally independent, yet they just don’t understand.

The more I think about this situation the more I relize it is really my decision. Maybe I’m getting too bold but worst case scenario is I receive total independence prematurely and hurt our relationship.

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Lie to them and tell them you’ll be with a friend that they don’t know.

You’ll meet tons of people and take pics with your new travel friends in Europe and you can tell them that you knew most of them before you went. Simple.

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quote:
Lie to them and tell them you’ll be with a friend that they don’t know.

You’ll meet tons of people and take pics with your new travel friends in Europe and you can tell them that you knew most of them before you went. Simple.

It’s not a good thing to lie to your parents.

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eh, it’s not a good thing for parents to be narrow minded and overprotective

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quote:
eh, it’s not a good thing for parents to be narrow minded and overprotective

We do not know them.

hope
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Could ya do me a favor and somehow sprout a sense of humor?

This board needs more light hearted players, not more chiding parents!

FromNorway
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quote:
Could ya do me a favor and somehow sprout a sense of humor?

This board needs more light hearted players, not more chiding parents!

Sure I can. I only wrote my opinion though.
Tip: Don’t call me "dude" if you want me to "sprout some humour".

hope
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Oh well, your "tip" proves you don’t have one

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quote:
Oh well, your "tip" proves you don’t have one

How can you claim that when you don’t know me?

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Easy dude!

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quote:
Easy dude!

Don’t call me "dude".

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So reactionary, you would make the perfect quisling.

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quote:
So reactionary, you would make the perfect quisling.

Are you calling me a traitor? What’s with the insults?

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Ha ha ha a quisling and a dude all wrapped up into one package.

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quote:
Ha ha ha a quisling and a dude all wrapped up into one package.

I see. Ok, sheepfucker. I’ve asked you respectfully not to call me "dude", now I won’t anymore, you piece of shit.
You’re laughing and joking about a traitor, who got shot in 1946. He’s one of the most hated men in our history, you arrogant, rude fuck. Show some damn respect.

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quote:Show some damn respect
Like I said before, if you want ‘respect’, don’t hang out at a messageboard with strangers, especially not ET.

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Outofstep, ultimately it’s your decision, but it is of course nicer if your parents agree with what you’re doing. If they don’t change their mind before you go, they may once you’re in Europe and sending them enthusiastic e-mails. My mother was totally against me going to Mongolia, but as soon as I e-mailed a report from there, she was much more positive and admitted she’d gotten the wrong impression of that country. Of course I never mentioned the bag-slashing incedent Wink

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What you need to do is make a list of the places you’re going and hostels you’ll be staying at. Even though planning this much isn’t always what "backpackers" like to do, this is the best route to help convince your parents. Print out summaries of the hostels and how safe they are (check out hostelword.com and hostels.com) and also provide your parents with the hostel phone number.

The first time I traveled through Europe I was with one other girl but I was only 18. My parents were hesitant to let me go, but once I provided them with all the info and testimonials and also provided phone numbers, they felt more secure.

Also, you need to stress to your parents that you are rarely "alone" while traveling. You always meet people along the way and often end up doing things with other people.

Finally, stick to big cities and use common sense in securing your belongings and trying to blend in (don’t wear a baseball cap and carry a tourbook).

There are many people who have traveled alone. Seraphim is a great example. MeredithBlueEyes also. She traveled to South America all by herself for months! I traveled through India, Thailand and Australia alone. Kahunna takes all his trips alone and his blog is a great testimonial to show your parents: http://www.kahunna.n…

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quote: stick to big cities

Why? Isn’t the countryside a lot safer than big cities?

The providing adresses/phone numbers thing is a good idea. And promise to get in touch once a week or something (via e-mail or phone).

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quote:auher you’ve got a one track mind.

Hah, true, but I was really impressed by this post. It’s nice to talk about things that actually should be discussed on ET once in a while…..

Re: the countryside vs. city thing. In addition to the safety issue that Seraphim brought up, I also think you get a much truer feeling for the country when you see both the city and the country. So I’d be sure to try to mix it up. I know when I was recently in Turkey, I loved being in Cappadocia more than I did in Istanbul even. And I live in a big city in the US, so maybe that makes me like what is different……..

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I agree with Auher. For me the ideal trip would include major cities, small towns, countryside, national parks, music festivals – a little bit of everything, you know. I’d much rather go to one big city and a couple of small towns in one country/region, than to two big cities in two countries. If you only go to major cities, you won’t really learn much about Europe. Even touristy small towns like Brugge or Cesky Krumlov could add something to your trip. Also, people in the countryside are generally more helpful, and it’s cheaper.

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Well thing is, guys, if you’re a seasoned alone-traveler and you don’t have your parents totally worried about you, venturing to smaller towns is no big deal and often the highlight of your trip. However, for parents who have trepidation about a child traveling alon the "Well, I’m gonna do an overnight trip to a remote town in the countryside by myself" is not likely to please them.

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On the other hand, one time I went to Amsterdam, which is 2 hours away, and my dad told me to beware of pickpockets, he’d never say that if I was going to the countryside on the other side of Europe. I did go to some small towns in Poland and Slovakia on my first long solo trip (I was 22, and had only been out of Belgium by myself once before for a 5-day trip to Berlin). I never thought that would be a reason for concern, and neither did my parents, who’d paid for the interrail pass btw (and one for my younger sister as well). Maybe it’s different because I was still in Europe and my mother usually doesn’t worry much (which is why I was very surprised by her reaction to me going to Mongolia). My dad does but then he gets worried when one of us is 5 minutes late for dinner. Anyway I’ve never heard of anyone getting robbed or assaulted or beaten up in the countryside. And the chance of something bad happening because of your own behaviour (i.e. drunken partying) seems a lot smaller too.

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I know seraphim, but your dad knows Europe and he lives there. He’s realistic and sensible about what’s dangerous and what’s not. Most American parents, especially ones who don’t travel very much, would be wary of their child wandering "off the beaten track" and would prefer them to stick to crowds of people and hang out in a group in an area they feel more familiar with and can track the child down – be it Paris, Rome, London, etc.

These are just my thoughts on how to convince a "fretting" American mother of safety and familiarity re: a solo trip to europe.

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quote:
Wow! The help has been overwhelming. Thanks a lot. Just to clarify, I am a male from USA. Financially, I am dependent on my parents but I have earned enough money over the months to comfortably travel to Europe for a month. By the way, I talked to them a little while ago and my mother gave me there "there’s a lot of nuts out there" line when arguing about traveling and staying at hostels. I tried to explain that there will come a point in my life where I’m going to people totally independent, yet they just don’t understand.

The more I think about this situation the more I relize it is really my decision. Maybe I’m getting too bold but worst case scenario is I receive total independence prematurely and hurt our relationship.

There’s a lot of nuts everywhere. Theres no escaping them. What you can do is learn where they are most likely to be and avoid them. Have you provided any links to positive reinforcement of the benefits of taking a worldly trip? The best thing you can do is educate them to the statistical majority of people who’ve done it fine many times before you. Don’t send them a link to dangerfinder unless they live in LA and think Europe is more dangerous (the DF LA page cracked me up since I am very familiar with LA).

Tell them you’re going either way since you have worked for the money for it and you’d like their blessing and not to hurt them. Make a provisional itinerary for them to help them be more comfortable with where you will be, promise to email them regularly, check in, and keep touch. Anything you can do to ease their comfort level with not knowing exactly where you are. You’ve been off at college for two years, you’ve probably dealt with some of the worst of the worst and a share of the best, you’re not planning to go somewhere like syria that has a bunch of department of state travel warnings.

Provide them as much positive reinforcement as you can find and nurture them on the idea.

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Outofstep,
The best way to put your parents worries to rest is to show them you know what you’re doing. I agree that printing them out pieces of Kahunna’s website as well as good info from here will help put their mind at ease. Show them you’ve done the research and that you have the confidence and capability to take this trip by yourself, but certainly not alone. Being a solo traveler you will often find yourself among larger groups of people that you met in the hostel than you would’ve had you gone with a friend. A solo traveler often seems much more approachable to people and much easier to strike up a conversation with. A nights good friend may only be a bar stool away. In reality you’ll only be alone when you choose to be.

Also listen to what your parents are worried about and maybe try to compromise a bit. Cutting your trip down to 25 days instead of 30 may not make much of a difference to for you, but it could mean a lot to them. Make them feel like they are a part of the whole process and everything will be a lot smoother. Personally I didn’t really take my own advise. I was 18 straight out of high school and I bought my plane ticket 6 days before I left. The next day I told my parents, "Remember how I always said I wanted to go to Europe? Well I leave on Wednesday." Of course that did not go smoothly.

If you still can’t break them down you may still consider going against their best wishes and if they are not very traveled themselves many of their fears will be unwarranted. As long as you reassure them that this trip is for you and not just a simple way to rebel against them and promise to check in every once in a while, they will deal with this just fine. Hopefully you’ll find the personal growth you are looking for, but when you return you will probably have grown in your parents eyes as well and as they better respect your independence. Good luck and have fun.

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quote: In reality you’ll only be alone when you choose to be.

Hmmm. That’s a bit exagerated. But then I’m not the most social person on earth, and I do sometimes like my own company best, and I stay at bottom-end hotels or campsites more often than hostels, and often go to places where there are few other tourists.

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quote:
Show some damn respect
Like I said before, if you want ‘respect’, don’t hang out at a messageboard with strangers, especially not ET.

I expect that there are people with manners on this forum as well. Is that stupid of me?

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quote:
Hi. I wasn’t sure where exactly to post this put perhaps this is the best place. I’m 20 years old, in college, and want to go to Europe solo for a month. I’d rather go solo because I want this trip to be a personal journey to find out who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my life, if that makes sense. I’ve lived with social anxiety most of my life and I think travelling would put me in situations where I’d have to meet new people and socialize.

The problem is that my parents really don’t know why and won’t let me go to Europe solo, for fear of my safety. With someone else they think its ok. I’m going to all major cities where a great portion of people speak English, i.e. Berlin, Paris, London, and Amsterdam. Plus, in the event something bad should happen I have relaitves in Sicily that I could stay this.

Well I’ve presented these arguements and they won’t change their views. What can I do to convice my parents otherwise? Thanks for all the help.

You are 20 years old you can do what you want to do, you don’t need you parents permission anymore. I was 21 when I left for Europe on my own and stayed from 2.5 years, you are right it will teach you a lot about yourself. I highly recommend it, your parents might be upset about you going but they will get over it.

Besides what could happen to you in Europe that couldn’t happen in the US. I believe the US is a far more dangerous place than Europe will ever be.

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Hi!

I know how you feel. I went on my first solo trip last summer (at age 22). All of my friends and relatives, especially my parents, thought I was insane for wanting to go to Europe alone. I think that this is because very few Americans do it. For Australians and other nationalities, it’s very common to travel in Europe solo, but it is more difficult for us. Every solo American I met while backpacking (not very many, to be honest) told me a similar story—that everybody thought they were crazy to be travelling alone.

When I went to Europe, I did a combination of trains and Busabout. My parents felt a little better when I told them about Busabout because it’s a bus drop off service for backpackers (and a good way to meet people). You can also do a tour, although I personally wouldn’t want to.

No matter what you do, if you stick to the big cities in Western Europe, and especially if you’re in hostels, you’ll meet a lot of other solo travellers (mostly Aussies). I met a lot of great people that I wish I could see again!

I agree with the others who say to plan out your trip: budget, hotel rooms, transportation, etc. It will show your parents that you possess enough maturity for taking this trip.

As for the safety thing, Europe has a lot less violent crime that America but more petty crime. The biggest thing to watch out for is pickpockets in tourist spots.

Good luck convincing your parents!

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quote:
I talked to them a little while ago and my mother gave me there "there’s a lot of nuts out there"

No more so here than in the USA. If they would be okay with you touring your own country for a month they have no reason to resist a month in Europe.

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quote:
quote:
I talked to them a little while ago and my mother gave me there "there’s a lot of nuts out there"

No more so here than in the USA. If they would be okay with you touring your own country for a month they have no reason to resist a month in Europe.

i think that states might have more nuts than other places (excluding war zones cause thats just straight nutty). if your safe it doesnt matter really. be practical. i was alone a lot in thailand and I felt safe. I avoided the unsafe places at night, knew where to go, knew not where to go. Tell them you’ll avoid basque spain if they are concered lol!

nadrazi, i did the same lol. i cam back from a vacation and told them mom dad, im quiting my job, finishing school, then touring the world for a year or more. they were like ahhhhhhhhh what? think about it more. I was like I did. I stop working in a month. lol. they were a little shocked. if your parents aren’t down with solo traveling, don’t do what i did!

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Tell your parents that at 20 years old, you need to do something to "find" yourself, and you’ve narrowed it down to either going to Europe for a few weeks on your own, or starring in a line of gay porn videos. Betcha they pay for your flight and rail pass!

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hahaha! At least someone on this thread has a sense of humor!

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quote:
Hi!

I know how you feel. I went on my first solo trip last summer (at age 22). All of my friends and relatives, especially my parents, thought I was insane for wanting to go to Europe alone. I think that this is because very few Americans do it. For Australians and other nationalities, it’s very common to travel in Europe solo, but it is more difficult for us. Every solo American I met while backpacking (not very many, to be honest) told me a similar story—that everybody thought they were crazy to be travelling alone.

When I went to Europe, I did a combination of trains and Busabout. My parents felt a little better when I told them about Busabout because it’s a bus drop off service for backpackers (and a good way to meet people). You can also do a tour, although I personally wouldn’t want to.

No matter what you do, if you stick to the big cities in Western Europe, and especially if you’re in hostels, you’ll meet a lot of other solo travellers (mostly Aussies). I met a lot of great people that I wish I could see again!

I agree with the others who say to plan out your trip: budget, hotel rooms, transportation, etc. It will show your parents that you possess enough maturity for taking this trip.

As for the safety thing, Europe has a lot less violent crime that America but more petty crime. The biggest thing to watch out for is pickpockets in tourist spots.

Good luck convincing your parents!

There is not more petty crimes in "Europe", there are more petty crimes in SOME European countries….

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Folks…i dont think the author is reading any of this Smile

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Outofstep might catch up with this this thread in a few days.

I like what Nadrazi said, especially about listening to what the parents said and making them feel a part of the planning process. With the parents/kids situation, so often both sides just stick to their own agenda and refuse to hear to each other. (I’ve been guilty of it myself.)

Our older kid always dreamed of taking a trip to Europe. We travel, so we encouraged him. He saved money for years. When he got to his later teens, he got into plenty of nasty trouble; cheerfully lying to us, keeping us on a need-to-know basis. He graduated from high school, and when his two buddies bailed out of the trip, off he went on his own, not even 18 yet. We worried, but we just had to let him go. He was gone six weeks.
He turned 18 in Paris on Bastille Day. He had a wonderful trip.

Outof, hopefully your parents would respond well to being more included in your research/planning process, especially if you compromise a bit with them. But I do think this is your decision. Send them cards and/or email, even call them, so they know you’re okay.
If you reassure them they might calm down—maybe even begin to feel positive about it.

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Oh, and promise your folks a lot of nifty souvenirs!

And they can brag to their friends about their adventerous child!

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quote:
And they can brag to their friends about their adventerous child!

I resemble that remark. Wink
But it’s true, Outof’s successful trip could really turn his parents’ attitude around. Smile

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As does my mom.

My older brother is still living at home (cant blame him really for the free rent and it’s huge) and with me being in Japan, things kind of balance out.

She just eats up that "where is your son now?" Stuff.

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I second hope’s idea, lying works. you could tell them you’re going on a school trip, or tell them you’re going to visit a friend out of state but really you’re going to Europe. if all else fails, remind them you’re a 20 year old adult and not a minor anymore. And if you’re financing your own trip, they won’t be able to stop you from going.